Acer C20 pico projector

The first thing you are going to notice about the C20 is that it looks cool. More like a just-released smartphone, it well and truly banishes not-so-fond memories of the grey monstrosities that used to blight your school classrooms. The link with the smartphone is definitely something that ACER seem to be trying to promote with the press release, not untruthfully, stating that with the deployment of phones as all round entertainment centres we have a wealth of pictures, vids and music at our fingertips. Thus we are going to want to show them off, which is where the C20 comes in with its compatibility with the average pocket.


Of course, this would all be pretty redundant were the product not to deliver, but from the C20 you get a 2000:1 contrast ratio so projections should be clear and void of vibration, whether you decide to have the size of your projection 13 cm (5”) or 168cm (66”) , where the C20 tops out. Sneakily, they’ve also chucked in an internal amplifier (lord knows where they find the space) so there won’t be any necessity to carry an extra speaker, which would kind of make the on-the-go idea behind the product redundant.

Similarly, if you always had to run the projector through your laptop it make it altogether less appealing and though you can do this if you wish the integrated SDHC reader means that you can use a Micro SD card for audio, video and pictures, whilst there is also a USB Flash capability, with pictures, videos and presentations all available for instantaneous deployment.

Any regular user of projectors will tell you that it’s all very well having nice contrast ratios, battery life, good standard lumens (brightness for the layman) and the like, but it all pales into significance in comparison to the life of the bulb. Traditionally bulbs in projectors give up quicker than me in a rugby scrum, but the C20 does away with this with its promise of a heady 20,000 hours life for its bulb. In case you are thinking of having regular 24 hour holiday photo fests (in which case I’m never coming round to your house) this should be fine for anyone. The lack of any tubes or breakable filament also means there’s a much less potential for interior snaps and niggles, whilst the fact that the C20 now uses the Colorsafe II DLP technology means the projector won’t be prone to the yellowish tints that often blight projected pictures after extensive use.

There’s a lot of these portable projectors coming onto the market at the moment, not least the MP160 AND MP180, reviewed here. What sets the C20 apart is its direct appeal to the everyday user- its all about appealing to the normal picture-taker/video-maker, not the travelling salesman or the manager in the boardroom. The price tag of £279.99 isn’t cheap, but then realistically this isn’t aimed at those at the low end of the market. With its promise of 20,000 hours of bulb life this is a sound long-term investment for those people that can afford it.

3M MP160 and MP180: Wireless pocket project-awe

I’m not going to lie to you: I am no entrepreneur. I am also not a businessman, a salesman, team leader, or one of those people that comes into your office twice a year in a vain attempt to make you ‘Expert’ level Excel. I think computer games are alright, but I certainly wouldn’t call myself a computer game ‘geek.’ I take pictures on trips, but am just self-aware enough to know that no-one- and I mean no-one, wants to come round to some godawful evening I where show them off and brag about how I found myself on some Scally-infected beach in South East Asia. I watch films occasionally, but normally only when I’m hungover and the concept of moving and engaging my brain in anything other than pretty people running around blowing stuff up and/or taking their clothes off is enough to make me reach for a warm tumbler of the previous nights rum. I am, in fact, the polar opposite of the target audience of the 3M MP160 and MP180 projector. When they had early board meetings and drew up all the different demographics of who they wanted to target, who they needed to appeal to make their projectors fly in the 21st century marketplace (not literally, though if it did I probably would be), I was so far off that whiteboard I might as well as have been at the bottom of the sea.

It is odd, therefore, that when I first read the press release of these brand new mobile projectors, I actually uttered the words; ‘that is so very useful.’


In a nutshell, the MP160 and MP180 are little baby projectors that you can carry around with you, in your briefcase/bag/lunchbox. They do not have an abundance of wires as you just charge the badboys before you need them , and they’ll run on their lonesomes for a healthy two hours (bit of a stitch if you’re up for a late night Passion Of The Christ fest, mind). You just plug them into your laptop, PC, smartphone, DVD player, TV, camcorder, basically anything with an output and boom, you have a wall-filling projection, with 30 lumens (I don’t know either) of brightness.

From what I can gather from this ‘ere press release, the M180 is for those of you that need a mini computer’s worth of info on you at all times. Its got 4GB of internal memory, and will take your micro SD card (good for those Full Moon Party pics), and USB so you can have all your stuff on you and be ready to present in the event of any emergency. It’s all controlled by a fancy touch screen, which comes further into its own when you consider the M180 has built in WiFi capability, so you can stream videos and such like from the internet. The fact it does all this and weighs only 338 grams and in a 150 mm x 65 mm x 33 mm package is something I find vaguely mindboggling and not dissimilar to the thoughts my oldest nephew would start experiencing if he tried to logically dissect the whole Santa Claus phenomenon.

The M160 is a little more straightforward; it has those all important 30 lumens (a unit of brightness for image quality – 30 is low for a real projector, which would output 2000, but ok for a mini one like this – Ed.), but it’s sans (French for without) the mobile office. So no Memory slot, internet, touch screen etc, but its still fine to hook up to other devices and will project games, videos and pictures onto walls, ceilings etc. It’s a more everyday and, though prices haven’t been confirmed yet, it is estimated that this will be reflected in its lower $349 price (as opposed to $399 for the 180).

All in all, if you are the sort of person that’s going to use one of these, it seems like a no-brainer. The only sticking point would seem to be the battery life, but you can just whack that on charge so lets not get bogged down in that eh? I won’t lie and say that I’ll be getting one (unless 3M want to send me one- nudge nudge, wink wink), but for those that need projections and entertainment on the go, these would seem to be your next port of call.

Pump up the volume with the best iPod docks around

As ghetto blasters and stereo players are being rapidly ditched for iPods and iPhones, with their aesthetical attributes and sound clarity, iPod docks are becoming quite competitive in the world of gadgets. Latest Gadgets looks at five of the best of these musical pedestals, which have become an important fixture in many a home.


Philips Fidelio DS900
Built out of natural wood and with a back curved for better sound, Philips Fidelio DS900 is a striking looking iPod dock, which produces equally as striking sound. Compared to conventional analogue audio processing technology, the Fidelio DS900 uses Advanced PureDigital sound, which provides for a vastly superior sound. Its smooth edges and precisely tuned bass pipes produce an authentic and quality sound reproduction. Possessing a proximity sensor to activate backlit control panel and with a Fidelio iPhone/iPod app available to ‘tweak’ the sound, the Phillips Fidelio DS900 can only be described as the crème-de-la-crème of iPod docks. Although at £399, it is likely only the more ‘well heeled’ of music lovers will be able to enjoy the many qualities this top-notch device has to offer.

Intempo Arena iPod Speaker Dock
Whilst it might not be quite as visually stunning as the Fidelio DS900, the Arena iPod Speaker Dock has a much more realistic price tag of £69.99 and comes fully equipped with innovative features and technology. Touch screen technology has now moved into the realms of iPod docks, as the Arena has a fabulous touch screen. With powerful, 12 watt speakers, FM radio with digital tuner, a fully functional remote control, contained within a sleek and compact design, the Intempo Arena iPod Speaker Dock is a realistic and well-relished accompaniment for any party.

iLuv iMM190 Alarm Dock
A small circular dock, large enough to accommodate your iPhone in landscape or portrait orientation, the best feature of the iLuv dock is the free Alarm Clock app that comes with it, transforming your phone into an old school clock display with additional weather information. And of course you can run your regular apps, even routing the mic through the one built-in to the dock for VoIP apps such as Skype. It’s also pretty reasonably priced at approximately £70.

Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2
Priced at a mid of the range £137 (approximately), the Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2 (pictured) certainly lives up to its name, as perhaps its greatest asset, is that being highly compact, you can take this iPod speaker dock quite literally anywhere. Combining 5.1 cm and 7.6cm pressure drivers, the Pure-Fi Anywhere 2 creates crystal-clear sound and a surprisingly deep bass.

Fidek iBigBoy 2
A million miles from the graceful and elegant qualities of most modern music docking systems, the Fidek iBigBoy 2 will not slot neatly beside the television and, as the name suggests, means business. This sizeable unit weighs over 24 kg and has a maximum power of 500W. Like many of its smaller counterparts, the Fidek iBigBoy 2 really delivers on sound quality. Although despite its hefty size and weight and a volume reaching heights that could potentially cause the neighbourhood to come to blows, its light, touch sensitive buttons, polished piano black finish and black wood front facia finish, means the Fidek iBigBoy 2 is much more attractive than it first sounds. Although for those serious about purchasing the iBigBoy 2, volume, not aesthetics, is likely to be the main attraction. This big boy will however set you back a hefty £399.

SOWAT portable ashtray

Any environmentally friendly invention has to be admired. We can all realise the use and relevance of the solar panel, the wind turbine and the electric car because it is obvious to even the most lay of planet-keeper that what they are doing is essentially good; that there is worth in their existence. Beneath such obvious examples, there is a whole industry of products being invented by eco-minded individuals desperate to do their bit to help save the world whilst making a sly buck. Thus, it is just as important that we recognise the job that they are trying to do, and that if all these inventions did click and become household names then it’s a bit more likely that we’ll still have a half-decent planet kicking around in 200 years.


Joining this industry is the SOWAT ashtray a portable ashtray from France. The SOWAT (standing for Smoke Only With AshTray) is basically a plastic holder/clip for your fag packet. You slip your packet in and, running adjacent of the back of the pack is a small pop-out tray. This, in theory is where you stash your smoked cigarettes, which you can then dispose with later in an appropriate place. And therein lies the raison d’être of the SOWAT; it is there to stop the everyday smoker putting their 11 o’ clock fag out in the street. According to the press release, some 7,000 cigarettes are dropped in the Square Mile every day, whilst a mind-boggling 845,000 tonnes of butts are discarded worldwide every year. C2C, the Lyon-based team behind the SOWAT wanted to end this and accordingly, after carrying out what they describe as ‘extensive studies of smokers behaviour’, have developed this wee (1.05 ounces heavy) gadget that will rid our streets and rivers of fag-ends as smokers worldwide do the diligent thing and put their C-Sticks back in their pockets.

Of course, the only problem I can see with the device is that smokers (and bear in mind I am one) are among the most self-centred, most foolish band of brothers and sisters on the planet. They are, lets not forget, regularly doing something that very well might kill them sometime in the not-so-distant future. If they care so little about themselves, are they really going to inconvenience themselves to carry around a little device that looks like its been designed for drug dealers to smuggle their quarry into nightclubs? Of course they’re not. Still, the good people behind SOWAT have created a device that reduces smokers’ damage to the planet and that is no bad thing.